Mitt Romney reiterated his support for Massachusetts’ 2006 health care reform and the individual requirement to purchase coverage during a town hall in Keene, New Hampshire today, stressing that people should be required to take responsibility for their own health care spending:
Q: Massachusetts health care, you haven’t said it was a mistake?
ROMNEY: I will repeal ObamaCare, but the Massachusetts plan was right for Massachusetts. Personal responsibility was the way to go. People in Massachusetts favor the plan 3 to 1. If they don’t like it they can get rid of it. I like what we did in our state. It won’t work in Mississippi. That’s what’s great about a state plan. Obama is trying to impose on nation. I like personal responsibility and I like freedom. I’m not going to back away from signing that bill.
Since announcing his candidacy for president, Romney has shied away from such direct endorsements of the mandate, a policy he has previously described as the “ultimate conservative idea” and “a Republican way.” “The Republican approach is to say, you know what? Everybody should have insurance. They should pay what they can afford to pay. If they need help, we will be there to help them, but no more free ride,” Romney told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on April 12, 2006 during a national media tour promoting his groundbreaking 2006 health care reform law.
Following that accomplishment, Romney was asked many times if he thought his plan for expanding coverage by requiring Americans to purchase health insurance should apply to the nation. He repeatedly either hinted or directly stated that it could or should, without raising any constitutional concerns. It’s a position he first adopted in his challenge to Sen. Ted Kennedy in 1994. At that time, Romney said he would support a mandate on a national level if universal coverage could not be achieved through other means (such as providing tax incentives to purchase care) and would have voted for a Republican alternative to the Clinton plan offered by then Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), which included a national individual mandate. In fact, as recently as December 2007, Romney said if other states adopted the individual mandate, it would be “a terrific idea…we’ll end up with a nation that’s taken a mandate approach,” and endorsed the Wyden-Bennett health care proposal, which also included a national individual mandate.